When social media networking sites began to really snowball and grow in popularity, businesses signed up for profiles as well because they didn’t want to be left in the dust. However, as sites like Facebook and Twitter have evolved to be an integral part to how we communicate with friends, co-workers, colleagues, and even strangers, it’s time for businesses to step up to the plate and smarten up their social media strategy and approach.
This includes putting a customer service and personalized spin on all messages and content sent out via social media. It’s no longer acceptable for a company to claim they didn’t know what they are doing. Because many users use some form of social media every day (and many times multiple times a day), businesses need to do what it takes to stand out from all the chatter and create a personal connection with their audience. Humanizing a company’s social media presence to reflect the company’s mission and inner workings not only helps with brand recognition, but also helps users feel more connected. Connecting breeds loyalty, which should be a key goal for any company.
Feeling a Connection
Online social media users like knowing that there are actual people behind the accounts they are interacting with. McDonald’s is a great example of this. Their official Twitter, @McDonalds (which has over 1 million followers) links to the Twitter team bio page, which gives each team member’s photo, personal twitter account, and why they love McDonald’s.
Whenever an individual team member tweets from the McDonald’s twitter account, they sign it with their initials (In Lauren’s case, it is ^LTS). This helps users know they are talking to a real person . It also helps McDonald’s track customer service by the Twitter team employees. Delta also uses initials to sign tweets as well.
Setting customer expectations to receive personalized service from a person they can learn more about helps them place trust in the company and its employees. This will lead to a greater overall experience, as customers like knowing they are being taken care of by a real team, not just a call center filled with anonymous faces.
Providing personalized service is also key when it comes to customer service via social media. Whenever customers are upset (or by the same token, happy) about something, they are going to talk about it on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Yelp, blogs, and more. The key to providing humanized customer service in social media is to address the problem head on and do what it takes to solve the issue, if at all possible.
This takes a great deal of monitoring and fast response. Companies with massive Facebook pages (like Walmart, which currently has over 27 million likes) may experience several hundreds of posts, comments, and messages a day. Each of these needs to be treated as an opportunity to thank the customer for their business or to fix what isn’t working.
Online users appreciate effort. A response of “I’m so sorry to hear that, please email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org with the details to get this figured out” is going to go a lot farther both with the specific customer and the other users who see the post than nothing at all. In fact, when it comes to social media, saying nothing at all (or even deleting all negative posts) can cause the company to lose customers and experience an even greater catastrophe.
When users are posting on a company’s wall, it’s because they have something to say. This means it is up to the companies to listen. If a certain piece of posted content or trend gets a huge amount of engagement, pay attention to it. If videos are shared more than links or photos, try to do more videos. Making it a priority to give the audience the type of content they interact with the most is going to help continue steady growth of any company’s social media presence and exposure.
Squishable, a company that specializes in round versions of stuffed animals, does an amazing job of engaging their Facebook audience. They noticed that customers enjoyed deciding on prototypes and colors for new designs that were in development, and now that is an integral part of their strategy for creating new animals for purchase. They occasionally show actual prototype drawings, as well as real employees posing with the initial concepts. This type of heavily reliance on Squishable’s actual customers to implement their designs has lead to loyal following that love to be involved in the process.
In the example above there are almost 9000 comments from users as to which type of eye looks better. This type of market research is invaluable to Squishable and only takes the time needed to tally the votes, saving possible money spent on focus groups. It also makes the users feel closer to the brand itself.
No matter the reason a company sets out to join and participate on social media, they can’t be successful at it if they aren’t also fulfilling the roles of the customer service desk, view into the inner workings of the company, and the liaison between the company and its consumers. While it can be a tough balancing act at first to figure out what works best in each industry, social media can be a great way to humanize a company, while gaining happy and loyal customers in the process.